If you have an addicted loved one and want change, yelling, nagging, threatening, and pleading will do nothing except slow down the process. Stop trying those tactics.
I've been treating people with addictions for 20 years and learned a lot over those 20 years. A lot about how to get someone out of denial, how people are thinking and feeling, how to remove roadblocks and help people decide to turn their life around. I'm here to help teach you everything I've learned...
I know it's hard not to yell, threaten, nag, and plead. It's an emotional reaction, and I feel this—the same way. Even after doing this for so long, I still want to do that. I have to fight it, and now and then, it still sneaks through.
Not only is it not practical to yell, nag, or threaten, but it will also not help you get your loved one to straighten up. Your loved one will run and get as far away as possible. Not only physically but also emotionally get far away.
Addiction counselors use a specialized motivational type technique. It's not that hard to learn. Anybody can do it, but you must learn to listen for the right things. People that have addiction problems feel two ways about the issue. They naturally have a part that doesn't want to change, and they have another part that does want to change.
We call that ambivalent feeling on both sides, and it is entirely normal. It's just that when you hear your loved one make statements about wanting to stay the same, which is what we call sustained talk, meaning sustain the same way that I am already. I don't want to change. It freaks you out, and you panic, which might trigger you into yelling, nagging, threatening, pleading, and all that stuff.
Remember having a part of you that doesn't want to change is normal and natural. You want to focus on listening for that part that wants to change because there's almost always a part of someone who wants to change; listen for these statements.
We call that change talk. You have to learn how to recognize change talk when you hear it. Now, there's a good acronym to help you remember what change talk sounds like. It's called, D-A-R-N, and most recently, they've added a few little things at the end, and now they call it D-A-R-N C-A-T.
The D stands for desire.
"I wish I could just put all this behind me, or I'd like to be able to cut back on my drinking, or I wish I could stop smoking." All of those are statements about desire.
The A stands for ability.
Now, the other thing you want to listen for is ability because when you get it—the desire to change matches up with the ability to change.
Now we're getting somewhere, ability, statements, sound, something like, "I could, I can, or I might be able to." These statements suggest that the person is considering whether they can make these changes and what changes. Should they make? Do they have the ability to do that? It's all about do they have the ability to make the changes.
For example, "I could call up my cousin; he got sober two years ago. He has some good advice for me.", "I can stop smoking on my own, or I can stop buying alcohol at the grocery store, and then it won't be in the house." Those are all statements about ability.
The R stands for reasons.
So we've got the desire to change. The ability to change, and we throw on some reasons now we're cooking with gas reasons why they want to change. And those statements sound something like, "I would feel better if, or I really should. Things might improve if..." Most of the time, reasons are internal reasons you might want to change.
You might physically feel better; relationships might be better. You might be more productive at work. You might feel less crappy. All of those things would be reason statements.
The N stands for needs.
Now needs are very similar to reason, which means I need to change, but needs tend to be external reasons.
Some people say external reasons aren't good; change is only internal, but that's not true. Both are very important. Most desire to change. It starts from external reasons and then eventually moves to internal reasons. So don't let the outer part bother you. Need statements often sound like "I ought to, I have to, or I really should."
So the main things you're listening for are desire, ability, reasons, and need. The more statements that you hear, the more the person is motivated to make a change. Those are the seeds that you want to grow. Helping someone find recovery is like nurturing little seeds. You want to find what's already there, pour water, and maybe even some miracle grow.
Now I will tell you what the C.A.T. stands for, but before I do that, I'm giving you a lot of information here, and it probably takes a lot of work to remember. So to help you remember, I've written it all for you HERE. You can watch me have one of these types of sessions.
Now, the C-A-T all have to do with willingness statements. This is more about the action starting to happen. So D-A-R-N is just what happens right before.
Before the action happens, the C-A-T is when we get in some movement here.
The C stands for commitment.
The A stands for action.
The T stands for taking steps commitment.
"I'm going to, I promise, or I intend to; I will start on Monday or tomorrow, or I'm ready to."
The T-- take steps; "I've already done it. I went to a meeting, called that counselor, or met with my cousin. He's going to take me to a meeting." That's when someone tells you they've taken steps in the right direction. Now change doesn't happen all at once.
It happens in stages, and there are certain stages where this change talk will start to happen.
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